Ask It Results: Universal Orlando Instead of Walt Disney World

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The results are in! Last week we asked you:

With Universal’s new offerings (like Volcano Bay), are you considering an onsite vacation to Universal instead of Walt Disney World?

Vacation dollars don’t go on trees, no matter how many money trees you buy at your local horticulture superstore, and vacation time is a finite commodity as well. For many years, Disney was the end-all-be-all for the ultimate Central Florida family getaway. Times change, and so are vacation habits. Here’s the results of your voting, with more than 2,000 votes cast.


No, not considering Universal Orlando instead of Walt Disney World


Universal has a very key demographic that they are going for, as evidenced by some of their new ad campaigns. Some people commented that if you aren’t a fan of thrill rides, you’ll be very limited on what you can do at Universal, but have many more options at Disney parks. Others noted that there’s an “age gap” with Universal, with limited appeal for the elementary school age group. Some said that they have tried Universal in the past, but find that they prefer what Disney has to offer. And still others feel that Disney has the nostalgia that Universal just doesn’t have yet.

Whatever the reason, for a decent number of people, Universal isn’t a part of their vacation planning for this year.

Both Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World

Why choose? For many people, taking a few days at Universal and a few days at Walt Disney World provides the best of both worlds. The biggest challenge is getting from one location to another, and having to switch hotels can be inconvenient. By doing a few days at each park, you really get to see much of the best in Central Florida theme park experiences and are sure to have something for everyone.

Yes, considering Universal Orlando instead of Walt Disney World

Even though this had the least amount of votes, it is something Disney should notice, as every person who goes to Universal only is a person not going to Disney. That means not only lost revenue in park tickets, but also other dips in parking revenue, hotel occupancy, meals, drinks, souvenirs, and more.

What I found most interesting, however, was that many people who said they were considering a Universal vacation this year implied that it was largely a one-and-done experience, or at the very least once every few years in between Disney vacations. Also, Universal seemed to have two main draws for people at this point — Harry Potter and Volcano Bay. The rest of the parks were very much “take it or leave it” for many people.

One plus for many people is that staying on site means ease traveling between hotels and theme parks with no need for busses to get everywhere. There also were a few who said that because it is impossible to “do it all” at Disney within a 3-4 day vacation, but that you can do everything at Universal during that time, a Universal vacation would be able to be more budget-conscious, and for the foreseeable future, cost means no more Disney trips.

What do you think? Are you surprised at the amount of interest in Universal-only trips or do you think this is just a passing fad. Got your idea of a perfect Central Florida theme park vacation? Let us know in the comments.

This week’s Ask It is now live on Twitter and here. See you next week for more Ask It results!

Julia Mascardo

Freelance writer and editor, living the dream in Central Florida with my husband, cats, and spirited nine-year-old daughter.

10 thoughts on “Ask It Results: Universal Orlando Instead of Walt Disney World

  • May 10, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    I suppose you would expect this result on a blog which is predominantly for Disney fans

  • May 10, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    I am obviously in the minority as I (and my family) way prefer Universal to Disney. It is just a more relaxing vacation…walk or a quick boat ride to the parks

    • May 11, 2017 at 9:25 pm

      I agree about the relaxing part. However, we really love Disney too. We are going for Memorial Day weekend. Since it’s such a short trip, we decided that we would do Universal only. Turned out to be a good choice. I would much prefer braving the insanity that will be Volcano Bay versus the complete and utter chaos that will be the opening of Pandora.

  • May 10, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    Oops…post submitted before I was done! As I was saying…quick walk or boat ride to the parks, no worrying about ride or restaurant reservations and quick access to Citywalk. Not to mention lower crowd levels! Love it!

  • May 10, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    I prefer universal.

  • May 10, 2017 at 11:54 pm

    I have never had a more terrible time than Universal! Had the most obnoxious bus driver,Reed was her name and she tried to pick up my 20yo son. Will not be going back. I would think not enough employee training all around the park.But the boat lady, I couldn’t believe such behavior. DISNEY FOR ME!❤

  • May 11, 2017 at 6:50 am

    My wife and I are from Michigan and annual passholders at both Disney and Universal. Overall, we like Disney better for more options, as we are at the point in our lives that the biggest roller coasters are starting to get a bit too rough for us (it stinks getting older). While we like both parks, we do see a few things that (to us) have repeated over multiple trips to both…

    1) Most important – Employees! Disney’s cast members routinely seem to be more cordial and helpful than Universal. This appears in all realms… greeters, customer service, resorts, restaurants, rides, etc. Over and over again, the Disney cast member (whether genuine or just because they have to) always appears to be more friendly and helpful, while Universal always seems they would rather just get you on your way. It is almost like Universal employees are there just for the paycheck, while Disney Cast Members enjoy their job.

    2) Special Events – While we love MVMCP, over the course of the year, we really think that Universal has better special events (at least the main draw of each event). The Mannheim Steamroller Christmas concert is always great. The summer concerts are much better than anything Disney brings in. The Mardi Gras parade is a fun, family event. And (with the exception of Halloween Horror Nights that we do not attend), Universal’s special events are included with your admission. Disney seems to want to add hard ticket expense to almost everything now.

    3) Evening Show – No comparison here. Disney still gets it, while Universal has nothing to offer. However, I will be interested to see what the new nighttime show on Hogwart’s brings.

    4) Rides – This is a tricky one for us. Again, you need to take it with the consideration that we no longer do the big roller coasters a lot. And, a person’s interest between the parks will fall a lot on their age/interest. But, for us, the best I can explain is that Universal seems to have the technical edge on most rides (let’s face it, their 3D rides (Skull Island, Transformers, Spiderman, etc) are far more “clear” and advanced than Disney’s. BUT, I also feel that Universal lacks in physical rides (i.e. – rides with MORE than just CGI/projections/etc). I am still old fashioned and like rides with actual props from time to time mixed in.

    5) Immersive Areas. As far as a specific “area/land”, Universal would win with the Harry Potter areas in both parks. BUT, as far as a complete park immersive experience, I would give that to Disney. When outside of Harry Potter, you can often look across the Universal park and see the other areas without any good transformations. However, at Disney, as you transition into a land, they still kept true to Walt’s idea that you should feel like you are “in” that land and their landscaping typically keeps you from seeing other areas of the park.

    Sorry, I could go on and on. I like to ramble a lot and put too many details in my posts, so I better stop.

    We like both parks and are already buying a home in Florida to move permanently to Windermere/Orlando in 5-1/2 years. We figure we will still buy annual passes every year to both parks… Universal for the concerts and parades, and Disney for (as the article correctly stated) the nostalgia and to just sit on a park bench and not worry about what is going on in the outside world.

  • May 12, 2017 at 1:02 am

    We usually do both, but lately our time spent in Universal is growing less and less, we’re now down to doing both parks in one day.

    The problem is that literally every new ride at universal, from minions to transformers to harry potter to kong, is exactly the same: you sit in a vehicle, watch a movie while the vehicle moves back and forth somehow, and you get sprayed with water before it’s done. This was really cool when it first appeared in the parks, but they seem like such one trick ponies now. All of the ride variety is rapidly leaving. I was really disappointed in the new Kong ride, the queue was better than the actual ride! Harry Potter world had great atmosphere but little substance. I can’t speak for race through new york, but it looked the same as all the other new rides in the promo i saw. They also have a lot of rides that are only for little kids, so that limits what all we can do there even more.

    Not only that, but any of their roller coaster-type rides have been made with such small seats that larger people like i am cannot fit on most of them. I can fit on the mummy (because it’s older) and can barely squeeze into Gringotts, but no other roller coaster on the property nor any other harry potter attraction period. I can fit on everything at disney with no problems.

    my mom, who doesnt ride fast rides but does like slow ones, didnt enjoy Universal as much when we went last, and by the end of the trip didnt really want to ride anything. There are only a handful of shows to go see, most of which are for things we personally arent fans of, so this also limited what she would do.

    I took my friend there for the first time during her first ever disney trip and she remarked that she didnt enjoy it nearly as much as she enjoyed disney either, and she COULD fit on everything and rode it all. She just found the rides repetitive and limited.

    I’m not a fan of water parks, so volcano bay isnt a draw for me.

    I used to really love universal, but it just isnt satisfying anymore. They need to be a little more creative instead of adding more rides identical to spiderman/transformers/etc… they dont have nearly as many attractions as disney as it is, so a little more variety would help add to my wanting to go back and spend time there


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